Cranford is a rich, comic and illuminating portrait of life in a small town in early Victorian times. Mrs Gaskell presents us with a society that was disappearing because of the onward march of the Industrial Revolution. While the dark clouds of urbanisation and the advance of the railway hover threateningly on the horizon, the inhabitants of Cranford, predominantly women, resolutely refuse to embrace change. Gaskell shows that in their apparently simple ordered lives they face many emotional dilemmas and upheavals. It is the drama of the minutiae that is both appealing and illuminating, revealing as it does that great emotions can by stirred by what to the outside world are minor matters.
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